ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Despite being hampered by a calf injury, Steve Holcomb says he is not ready to give up the four-man bobsleigh title without a fight.
The American knows the best cards lie with Russia’s Alexander Zubkov who will start favorite to secure an Olympic double after his two-man victory on Monday.
“Traditionally the home team always does well,” Holcomb said before the start of the four-man competition on Saturday.
”They have been down this track more than we have. In a few years it will balance out when we all start to learn this track.
”Right now they are going to be tough to beat. But don’t think for a second we’re going to back off and let them just win, we will be trying our hardest to challenge them.
”Come race day, I’ve got a great push crew behind me, they already know that I‘m a little bit behind but they’re going to give everything they’ve got.
“This is what we’ve been training for and we’re not going to give up that easily.”
Holcomb hurt his calf at the start of the second heat in the two-man competition but battled on with brakeman Steve Langton to win a bronze, the first podium finish by the U.S. in the event since 1952.
He has been receiving intensive treatment and gave his crew members an extra workout in official training on Wednesday by sitting in the sled from the start.
”We’re still putting down decent times considering they’re pushing an extra 105kg out there today, we still work pretty fast, so that’s good. I‘m happy about that.
”We’re working on it kind of round the clock. I was up until 2am last night getting some treatment and back up again today at 07:00. We’ve got a great plan in place, we’ve got a great medical team behind us.
“It’s getting better, but it’s tricky because you start to feel good and as soon as you think you feel good is when you go out and hurt it again. I don’t want to strain it any more than I have.”
Holcomb’s victory in Vancouver four years ago ended a 62-year wait for gold for the U.S. in the event but Zubkov acknowledged the odds were against his rival retaining that title.
“I think it will be hard for him to stand a chance, but I know he could overcome it and he will try hard,” said the 39-year-old who ended his own long wait for an Olympic title at his fifth Games.
Editing by Robert Woodward